HIV prevention drugs to be available without a prescription in California

92/1 Moo3 Huai Yang Kham Chun Phayao, Thailand 56150/iStock(LOS ANGELES) — Californians, starting next year, will be able to access HIV prevention medications without a prescription.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law on Monday, making California the first state in the country to allow post-exposure and pre-exposure prophylaxis to be sold over the counter.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis, known as PrEP, is a once-daily pill that prevents an HIV infection before it occurs. Post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, is taken after possible exposure to HIV to avoid contracting the disease. Because PEP is most effective when taken within 72 hours of exposure, requiring a prescription limits access to the time-sensitive medication.

Other barriers to PrEP access include too few doctors prescribing it, PrEP’s high cost and a persistent stigma against people at high risk for HIV, which can make it harder for them to approach providers or discuss with them their sexual health and drug use.

“If we are going to end the epidemic — a goal of the current administration — we need increased access to PrEP,” said Dr. Alysse Wurcel, an infectious disease physician at Tufts Medical Center.

Wurcel said she supported PrEP being available without a prescription and compared the medication to another harm-reduction tool: seat belts.

“When the seat belt first came out, people thought it should not be available, because then people would drive faster and get into more accidents. Could you imagine if someone needed a prescription for a seatbelt?” she asked. “Everyone should have access to harm-reduction tools, whether it be a seat belt, a condom or a pill that prevents HIV.”

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis last year found that only a small percentage of Americans who could benefit from PrEP are prescribed the medication. Of the people who could potentially benefit from PrEP and don’t have prescriptions, two-thirds are African American or Latino, according to the CDC.

“One of our most powerful tools for HIV prevention remains largely on pharmacy shelves,” Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, said in a statement at the time of the report.

Two other important tools, according to Wurcel, are sexual health counseling and testing for sexually transmitted infections, both of which should be part of a health care regimen that includes PrEP.

“Sexual health does not stop at access to PrEP. That may be where it starts — where someone feels empowered and takes a pill to protect themselves against HIV — but that should not be where it stops,” Wurcel said.

In 2017, nearly 39,000 people received a new HIV diagnosis, according to the CDC. Of those new diagnoses, men who have sex with men face the highest risk.

In California, pharmacists can already dispense emergency contraception and birth control without a prescription, thanks to laws that went into effect over the last decade.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

“It only gets better!” Donald Faison teases tonight’s ‘Emergence’

Entertainment News  "It only gets better!" Donald Faison teases tonight's 'Emergence'


ABC/Lou Rocco(NEW YORK) — A mysterious plane crash, a mysterious little girl, and a mysterious secret government experiment are at the heart of Emergence. The ABC drama stars Allison Tolman as the police chief of a seaside town.  Scrubs veteran Donald Faison plays her ex-husband.

The little girl, Piper, was discovered unharmed at the site of a plane crash, and was found to have unspeakable powers of unknown origins — until tonight’s episode.

Faison, a hard-core sci-fi geek in real life, tells ABC Audio that tonight’s episode is a must-watch.

“It’s amazing, actually! Tonight, Tuesday night, you discover who-slash-what Piper is. You know, we’re only three episodes in, and we’re answering questions the fans want to know,” he teases.  “You know, that’s rare in television like this. You know, some shows, that’s the season finale. We’re giving it to you right away.”

It only gets deeper!” adds Faison.  “It only gets better!” 

Emergence airs at 10 p.m. Eastern time on ABC.


Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 08 Oct 2019

White House official told whistleblower Trump Ukraine call was ‘frightening’

Political News White House official told whistleblower Trump Ukraine call was ‘frightening’

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead(WASHINGTON) —  A White House official listening to President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president described the call as “crazy” and “frightening” and was “visibly shaken,” according to notes taken by the intelligence official who filed a formal whistleblower complaint after speaking with the official, and others.

ABC News has learned that the two-page memo, written by the whistleblower a day after Trump’s call, suggests that at least one close aide to the president feared that Trump’s own words in the call were damning. According to a rough transcript of the call released by the White House, Trump asked Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy to launch an investigation into a political opponent, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, and his son.

The notes were based on a brief conversation between the whistleblower and the White House official and described “highlights” from the president’s call. The document was later provided to the intelligence community’s inspector general, who reviewed the whistleblower’s complaint. The IG has determined the complaint “appeared credible” and of “urgent concern.”

The White House had not responded to a request for comment. Trump has defended the call as acting on his duty as president to end corruption “even if that means requesting the help of a foreign country or countries.”

“This has NOTHING to do with politics or a political campaign against the Bidens,” Trump tweeted Oct. 4. This does have to do with their corruption!”

Trump also has dismissed the whistleblower’s account of the phone call because he says the complaint was based on second-hand information. According to the IG report, the individual had both first and second-hand information. This week a second whistleblower has come forward with what that person’s lawyer describes as first-hand knowledge.

“The President urged Zelenskiy to investigate the Bidens and stated that [Trump’s personal attorney Rudy] Giuliani would discuss this topic further with Zelenskiy during his trip to Kyiv,” the unnamed White House official told the first whistleblower, according to the notes.

“The official, who listened to the entirety of the phone call, was visibly shaken by what had transpired and seemed keen to inform a trusted colleague within the U.S. national security apparatus about the call,” the whistleblower writes in the memo.

The memo states the official “described the call as “crazy,” “frightening,” and completely lacking in substance related to national security.”

After the call, the whistleblower says “[I} returned to my office, and wrote up my best recollection of what I had heard.” The person notes that they did not review the call’s transcript or written notes, “but the official informed me they exist.”

The official recalled to the whistleblower that the president also asked the Ukranian leader about “Crowdstrike server” a reference to a debunked theory that Ukraine is holding Hillary Clinton’s missing emails, and that it was the Ukraine, not Russia, that was behind the interference in the 2016 election.

The White House official also correctly recalled that the president raised the issue of Burisma holdings, a company that employed Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.

Importantly, the whistleblower also documented suspicions from the White House official that notes or transcripts from the call were being protected in an unusual manner. ABC News has reported that the White House changed its practice of storing phone call transcripts with foreign leaders to avoid leaked by keeping them in secure servers with restricted access. It was unclear if those conversations, however, were being protected for reasons of national security or for political reasons.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 08 Oct 2019

China hits NBA with broadcast blackout after Adam Silver discusses Hong Kong controversy

Sports News China hits NBA with broadcast blackout after Adam Silver discusses Hong Kong controversy

mphillips007/iStock(BEIJING) — China’s state-run broadcasting network ordered a blackout Tuesday of all NBA preseason games set to be played in the country in response to league commissioner Adam Silver voicing support for Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s right to exercise his freedom of expression on the Hong Kong protests.

The apparent retaliatory move by China came in the aftermath of a controversy that erupted over a tweet by Morey last week supporting pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong.

“The long-held values of the NBA are to support freedom of expression, and in this case, Daryl Morey as general manager of the Houston Rockets enjoys that right,” Silver said during a news conference in Japan, where the Rockets are scheduled to play two preseason games against the Los Angeles Lakers this week. “I understand there are consequences. We will protect our employees’ freedom of speech.”

Silver said that while he regrets that Morey’s tweet upset the Chinese government and millions of NBA fans in that country, “we are not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression.”

In an earlier statement, Silver said, “It is inevitable that people around the world — including from America and China — will have different viewpoints over different issues. It is not the role of the NBA to adjudicate those differences.”

Shortly after Silver’s comments, China’s state-owned broadcasting network CCTV announced it is immediately suspending plans to broadcast a series of NBA preseason games scheduled to be played in China later this week as part of an effort to use basketball to bridge cultural differences between the United States and China.

“We have noticed that Adam Silver, the NBA president who is participating in the event in Japan, responded to the Houston Rockets general manager Morey’s announcement of inappropriate Hong Kong-related remarks,” CCTV officials said in a statement. “We [are] strongly dissatisfied and opposed [to] Adam’s claim to support Morey’s free expression of rights. We believe that any speech that challenges national sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech.

“To this end, CCTV Sports Channel of the Central Radio and Television General Administration decided to immediately suspend the current broadcast arrangements of the NBA preseason [China Games] and immediately investigate all cooperation and exchanges involving the NBA,” the statement said.

The Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers are scheduled to play games this week in Shanghai and Shenzhen, China.

Morey took down a tweet with an image reading, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong,” within hours of posting it as caused an outcry from China.

“I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China,” Morey said in a subsequent Twitter post. “I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives.”

On Sunday, China’s consulate general in Houston urged the Rockets to “clarify and immediately correct the mistakes” made by Morey.

Morey’s tweet prompted an angry response from several Chinese companies that sponsor the Rockets, including sporting goods manufacturer Li-Ning and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, which both announced they are suspending their relationships with the Rockets.

CCTV and internet giant Tencent — who inked a five-year, $1.5 billion deal in August to stream NBA games in China — both said they will not show Rockets games.

Former Rockets’ star Yao Ming, the catalyst behind the team’s enormous popularity in China and the current president of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), announced the CBA would be suspending its relationship with the Rockets.

“For those who question our motivation, this is about far more than growing our business,” Silver said in his statement Tuesday.

American basketball has a long history in China, dating back to the 1800s when the game was introduced to the country through the YMCA. The NBA is the No. 1 sports league in China and big business for the league with at least 25 marketing partnerships and 200 NBA stores.

The Nets majority owner, Joe Tsai, the co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, posted an open letter to NBA fans on Facebook on Sunday expressing his views on the controversy. Tsai wrote that Morey should have understood he was broaching a “third-rail issue” in China with his tweet, but conceded that the NBA executive has a right to “freely express” his opinion.

“The one thing that is terribly misunderstood, and often ignored, by the western press and those critical of China is that 1.4 billion Chinese citizens stand united when it comes to the territorial integrity of China and the country’s sovereignty over her homeland. This issue is non-negotiable,” Tsai wrote.

During his news conference, Silver expressed support for Tsai’s “right to respond” to Morey’s “right to freedom of expression.”

“I can tell you, at least speaking for the United States, I think there’s far more understanding of the complexity of the issues in Hong Kong than there was heretofore,” Silver said. “Sports often serves that purpose that takes people who might not otherwise pay attention to issues in society and … shines a light on them.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 08 Oct 2019

Trump campaign threatens to sue Minnesota over ‘phony and outlandish’ rally security bill

Political News Trump campaign threatens to sue Minnesota over 'phony and outlandish' rally security bill

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead(WASHINGTON) — President Trump and his campaign have accused the Democratic mayor of Minneapolis of “attempting to extort” the campaign with over half-a-million in security fees ahead of Thursday’s rally.

The Trump campaign on Monday night threatened legal action against the city, accusing Mayor Jacob Frey of trying to force a “phony and outlandish” security fee of $530,000 ahead of the president’s rally at the Target Center in Minneapolis. A previous unpaid security fee for his rally in El Paso, Texas in February of this year was also roughly the same amount.

Trump echoed his campaign’s attacks on Frey in a string of tweets Tuesday morning, including blasting the “Radical Left Mayor of Minneapolis” for trying to “price out Free Speech.”

“Probably illegal! I stand strongly & proudly with the great Police Officers and Law Enforcement of Minneapolis and the Great State of Minnesota! See you Thursday Night!” the president added.

“This is an outrageous abuse of power by a liberal mayor trying to deny the rights of his own city’s residents just because he hates the President,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement on Monday. “People want to hear from their President, and no mayor looking to beef up his résumé for a run for higher office should stand in the way.”

ABC News reached out to the Target Center and its management for comment but has yet to receive a response.

Frey responded in a brief Tweet Tuesday morning, alluding to the campaign’s past issues with paying cities security bills around campaign rallies: “Yawn… Welcome to Minneapolis where we pay our bills, we govern with integrity, and we love all of our neighbors,” the mayor tweeted.

On Monday, the Trump campaign released a letter from its lawyers to AEG, the management company that runs the Target Center in Minneapolis.

“The Campaign cannot be in breach of an obligation it does not owe to AEG,” the campaign’s lawyers argue in the letter. “Your position is clearly wrong under the plain wording of the contract. Neither the Campaign nor AEG is responsible for arranging or paying for rally-related security.”

The letter goes on to give the city until 11:00 am CDT on Tuesday to comply with the agreement “or else we will prepare the necessary papers to begin court proceedings.” After the deadline passed on Tuesday Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told ABC News, “We will have something to say when it’s appropriate.”

The Trump campaign has a history of not immediately paying charges billed by cities after rallies. The president’s reelection campaign still owes nearly half-a-million to El Paso stemming from February this year, as ABC News previously reported.

Back in June, the campaign cast doubt on El Paso’s accounting, implying they had been overcharged.

“Since 2015, the Trump Campaign has held nearly 550 rallies all over the country, and this invoice is roughly 10 times the amount that a locality generally asks to be reimbursed,” Michael Glassner, chief operating officer with the Trump campaign, told ABC News in a statement back in August regarding the outstanding El Paso bill. “We are reviewing it.”

The Trump campaign also pointed to a report that a health care reform-themed rally in 2009 that then-President Barack Obama hosted at the same venue amid ongoing congressional debate over Obamacare. The price for security was $20,000, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The City of El Paso confirmed to ABC News on Tuesday that the bill has still not been paid by the Trump campaign—and the city of Minneapolis has taken notice, even reaching out to the City of El Paso regarding the bill, according to El Paso Communications Director Laura Cruz-Acosta.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 08 Oct 2019

Supreme Court wrestles with LGBT employment discrimination and meaning of ‘sex’

Political News Supreme Court wrestles with LGBT employment discrimination and meaning of 'sex'

Charles William Kelly(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday wrestled openly for the first time with employment discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender Americans, at times seeming inclined to find that they are protected from discrimination under federal law but also showing discomfort with the potential implications of a sweeping decision.

The court heard arguments in three cases involving individuals who say they were fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The plaintiffs argued that the plain text of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, applies to them.

“When an employer fires a male employee for dating men but does not fire female employees who date men, he violates Title VII,” argued Pamela Karlan, counsel for former Georgia child welfare services coordinator, Gerald Bostock, who says he was fired for being gay.

“The employer has … discriminated against the man because he treats that man worse than women who want to do the same thing,” said Karlan, “and that discrimination is because of sex.”

The argument was intended to appeal to the court’s conservative majority, which for years has professed an obligation to strict interpretation of a statute’s text.

In the case of Aimee Stephens, a transgender Michigan woman who was fired from her job at a funeral home after notifying her employer of her gender identity, Justice Elena Kagan suggested the application of the law was clear.

“The claim here is that Harris Homes is treating her differently because the sex assigned at birth. That’s discrimination because of sex,” Kagan said.

When counsel for the funeral home, John Bursch, argued that the firing was because of a dress code that was equally applied to all employees, Justice Neil Gorsuch seemed open to siding with Stephens. “Isn’t sex also at play here, and isn’t that enough?” he said of federal anti-discrimination rules.

Justice Samuel Alito was publicly skeptical, suggesting the meaning of ‘sex’ in 1964 when Congress wrote the law should not be dismissed.

“You’re trying to change the meaning of what Congress understood as ‘sex’ in 1964,” said Alito, challenging the plaintiffs.

“In 1964, those were the days of Mad Men,” quipped Karlan at one point.

“If the Court takes this up and interprets this 1964 statute to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, we will be acting exactly like a legislature,” Alito said.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out that the court has already adopted a more expansive view of discrimination protection on the basis of sex in the years since Congress passed the law.

“No one thought sexual harassment was a thing in 1964,” she said. But the court now recognizes that Title VII prohibits sexual harassment. As several justices noted during the argument, the court has also held that Title VII prohibits “sex stereotyping,” as well as same-sex sexual harassment.

In a 1989 case, the court ruled in favor of a female accountant who was denied a promotion because she was viewed as not conforming to her employer’s expectations about how women should talk, dress, and behave. All of the plaintiffs argued that that case provides important support for their position.

Over two hours of arguments, the justices seemed most preoccupied with the implications of their decision in this case and what it would mean for intense national debate over bathroom facilities for transgender people and participation of transgender athletes in sex-separate collegiate sports.

“There are male and female bathrooms, there are dress codes that are otherwise innocuous — most people would find them innocuous,” said Gorsuch. “But the affected communities will not, and they will find harm.”

“Assume it’s close,” he said later. “At the end of the day, should we take into account the massive social upheaval and legislative history?”

Chief Justice John Roberts raised concern about religious organizations and their concerns with employing gay, lesbian and transgender people.

“If we’re going to be extending the understanding of what sex encompasses,” said Roberts, “how do we address that other concern” of religious exemptions?

“There’s no upheaval,” argued David Cole, attorney with the ACLU, defending Stephens. Religious exemptions, he said, already exist under federal law.

Cole and attorneys for the plaintiffs urged the justices to rule narrowly, saying implications for bathrooms and sports could be dealt with later in future cases.

“We’re not asking you to update the statue or redefine sex,” Cole said. We’re asking you to recognize “that transgender people have the right to be in a workplace because of who they are.”

While the three cases were consolidated for argument, the court could offer split opinions in the cases involving sexual orientation and gender identity or could find that Title VII applies to both categories, on the basis of “sex.”

The justices are expected to release their opinion in early 2020.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 08 Oct 2019

“A story with no end”: Marvel movie & TV stars assemble in NYC to pay tribute to Stan Lee for future TV special

Entertainment News  "A story with no end": Marvel movie & TV stars assemble in NYC to pay tribute to Stan Lee for future TV special


ABC/Richard Cartwright(NEW YORK) — Marvel maniacs united at New York City’s New Amsterdam Theater Monday night to pay tribute to the man whose imagination launched the Marvel Universe: Stan Lee. 

As the creative force behind Marvel Comics, Lee created or co-created Spider-Man, Iron Man, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, Thor, The Hulk, Doctor Strange and many other characters.  He also had cameos in nearly every Marvel film.

Marvel Celebrates Stan Lee, filmed for a future ABC TV special, was hosted by Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D star Clark Gregg, whose character Phil Coulson was first introduced in Iron Man.

The evening featured heartfelt speeches by Marvel movie and TV stars, as well as Lee’s Marvel Comics colleagues and friends, interspersed with video montages featuring Mark Hamill, Evangeline Lily, Kevin Smith, Elizabeth Olsen, Mark Ruffalo, Lou Ferrigno, Seth Green, Jimmy Kimmel, and rappers Method Man of Wu-Tang Clan and Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC.

One such tribute quoted Avengers: Endgame by concluding with the words “Stan, we love you 3000.”

Before the filming started, Marvel’s Daredevil star Charlie Cox gave opening remarks, and his Daredevil co-star Deborah Ann Woll later spoke about how Lee’s creations have completely changed pop culture as we know it. 

“Ten years ago, could you have imagined that the average person on the New York subway would have strong feelings about The Winter Soldier?”  she asked.  “Or that the woman who cuts your hair would have a crush on The Winter Soldier…and on Loki?”

Gregg’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. co-star Ming-Na Wen spoke about how Lee was one of the driving forces behind making Marvel Comics more inclusive, while Loki himself, Tom Hiddleston, spoke about how Lee became just as big a star as the heroes he created.

“Stan Lee’s in more movies than I am!” Hiddleston marveled.

Paul Bettany, who plays Vision, thanked Lee for “giving us freaks and weirdos a place to belong.”

But perhaps Hiddleston said it best.

“Stan Lee started a story with no end, and it changed the world,” he noted. “We couldn’t stop it now if we tried. ‘Nuff said.”

So far, there’s no airdate for the special.

Marvel, like ABC News, is owned by Disney.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved

Posted On 08 Oct 2019

Flight attendant may have exposed passengers on several flights to Hepatitis A: CDC

400tmax/iStock(ATLANTA) — An American Airlines flight attendant may have exposed passengers on several flights to Hepatitis A, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One of those exposures took place on a flight between San Francisco and Charlotte on Sept. 21, North Carolina-based Mecklenburg County Public Health Department confirmed to ABC News. The health department contacted 18 local passengers, all of whom received Hepatitis A vaccinations.

Hepatitis A is usually transmitted from person-to-person by ingesting fecal matter or contaminated food or water. The disease, which affects the liver, causes flu-like symptoms, including fatigue, stomach pain, nausea and jaundice in adults, according to the CDC. Children younger than six months old do not typically have recognizable symptoms.

Vaccination is the best way to protect against Hepatitis A.

American Airlines would not confirm to ABC News that one of its flight attendants had contracted Hepatitis A or another disease. The airline said in a statement that it’s in close contact with the CDC and “will coordinate with them on any required health and safety related measures.”

The CDC said in a statement that because the flight attendant had diarrhea on several flights during the period in which he was considered infectious, the agency is investigating and notifying passengers who may have been affected.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.